BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Poland is currently looking for a replacement to former head coach Dirk Bauermann, EuroBasket 2013|
In a rare public statement which highlights the prestige surrounding international basketball, Mihailo Uvalin, arguably the most successful coach in Poland at the moment, has expressed his wish to assume the reins of the senior national team.
The Serbian tactician led Stelmet Zielona Gora to their first ever Polish League crown and into the Eurocup Top 16 last year, and has steered the club into their maiden Turkish Airlines Euroleague season.
"As someone who has been working at a top club in Poland for three years and has been voted as the best coach in the PKL league during the past two seasons, I am interested to help the Polish national team," Uvalin said in an interview with polskikosz.pl.
Uvalin's public express of interest in the role came only a week after the Polish Basketball Federation announced they would launch a recruiting process to replace German coach Dirk Bauermann, who was at the helm of the national team during one year, including their EuroBasket 2013 campaign.
"There were big ambitions during the last EuroBasket and I understand it perfectly," Uvalin said.
"Some star players were at the best age to achieve success with the national team, there was a very positive atmosphere and the whole country was interested.
"However, after EuroBasket everyone was very disappointed."
While it is still early to say whether Uvalin is a frontrunner in the race for the vacant position, the Serbian has made a strong case for his candidature.
"Generally, the greatest advantage for any candidate to coach the national team is the knowledge of the players who make up its backbone," Uvalin said.
|It is the season for national teams to announce new coaches with Krka head coach Aleksandar Dzikic getting the nod for F.Y.Rof Macedonia in December|
"At the moment we have to make it clear that if you want to achieve something, you must know the players, and above all, their mentality.
"It is also necessary to have been present in this environment for some time.
"I think that my advantage would be the fact that I know Polish basketball very well, I know what they want, what they feel and know their characters.
"I think that if at the moment someone suggested to me to work for example as the coach of France, or Germany, or Italy, I'd have a huge problem, I only know really well maybe four players [from each country], how could I cope?"
Before handing the reins of the national team to Bauermann in January 2013, Poland were coached by Slovenian Ales Pipan, who had worked in the country as boss of Anwil and, just like his German colleague, had successfully combined club jobs with national team roles during his career.
Uvalin commenced his coaching career at the youth teams of Red Star Belgrade and got his big break in 2005, when he took on as head coach of Telenet Oostende and guided them to the Belgian Ethias League title.
He arrived in Poland to take charge of Zielona Gora in December 2011, after a brief spell as the head coach of Red Star.
The Polish Federation have stated that the recruiting process will be conducted in accordance with the rules set out by the Ministry of Sport and any interested coaches are invited to submit their candidature.
Poland however are not alone in their hunt for a figure that will assume charge of their national team, with Slovenia, Greece or Turkey among those who are also expected to make an appointment in the coming weeks.
In the final days of 2013, Serbia trusted Aleksandar (Sasha) Djordjevic to replace Dusan Ivkovic, Russia handed the reins to Lokomotiv Kuban coach Evgeny Pashutin and FYR of Macedonia put in charge Aleksandar Dzikic, the coach of EuroChallenge club Krka Novo Mesto.
Poland will take part in next summer's EuroBasket 2015 Qualification Round, which will be drawn on 3 February in Barcelona.